Case Digest: Republic v. Sandiganbayan & Marcos

G.R. No. 155832 : December 7, 2010

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. SANDIGANBAYAN (Fourth Division) and IMELDA R. MARCOS, Respondents.



Immediately after assuming power, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order 1, creating the PCGG. She empowered the PCGG to recover all ill-gotten wealth allegedly amassed by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his family, and close associates during his 20-year regime.

Acting on the authority given them, Attys. Ramirez and Abella issued a sequestration order against the Marcoses Olot, Tolosa, Leyte property (Olot Resthouse), a 17-room affair sitting on 42 hectares of beachfront land, with a golf course, swimming pool, cottages, a pelota court, and a pavilion.

Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the PCGG, filed a complaint for recovery of ill-gotten wealth against President Marcos and his wife, respondent Mrs. Marcos, before the Sandiganbayan.

Mrs. Marcos filed a motion to quash the March 18, 1986 sequestration order against the Olot Resthouse, claiming that such order, issued only by Attys. Ramirez and Abella, was void for failing to observe Sec. 3 of the PCGG Rules and Regulations. The rules required the signatures of at least two PCGG Commissioners.

The Sandiganbayan issued the assailed Resolution, granting the motion to quash and ordering the full restoration of the Olot Resthouse to Mrs. Marcos.

ISSUE: Whether or not sequestration order against the Olot Resthouse, issued by PCGG agents before the enactment of the PCGG rules, was validly issued.

HELD: No. Sandiganbayan Decision Affirmed.

POLITICAL LAW- Under Section 26, Article XVIII of the Constitution, an order of sequestration may only issue upon a showing "of a prima facie case" that the properties are ill-gotten wealth under Executive Orders 1 and 2

In Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co, Inc. v. PCGG, the Court held that a prima facie factual foundation that the properties sequestered are "ill-gotten wealth" is required. The power to determine the existence of a prima facie case has been vested in the PCGG as an incident to its investigatory powers. The two-commissioner rule is obviously intended to assure a collegial determination of such fact.

Here, it is clear that the PCGG did not make a prior determination of the existence of a prima facie case that would warrant the sequestration of the Olot Resthouse. The Republic presented no evidence before the Sandiganbayan that shows differently. Nor did the Republic demonstrate that the two PCGG representatives were given the quasi-judicial authority to receive and consider evidence that would warrant such a prima facie finding.

Parenthetically, the Republics supposed evidence does not show how the Marcoses acquired the sequestered property, what makes it "ill-gotten wealth," and how former President Marcos intervened in its acquisition. Taking the foregoing view, the resolution of the issue surrounding the character of the property sequestered whether or not it could prima facie be considered ill-gotten should be necessary.

Even assuming arguendo that Atty. Ramirez had been given prior authority by the PCGG to place Dio Island Resort under sequestration, nevertheless, the sequestration order he issued is still void since PCGG may not delegate its authority to sequester to its representatives and subordinates, and any such delegation is invalid and ineffective.

The absence of a prior determination by the PCGG of a prima facie basis for the sequestration order is, unavoidably, a fatal defect which rendered the sequestration of respondent corporation and its properties void ab initio. Being void ab initio, it is deemed non-existent, as though it had never been issued.

POLITICAL LAW- judicial or quasi-judicial powers may not be delegated

Although the two PCGG lawyers issued the sequestration order in this case on March 18, 1986, before the passage of Sec. 3 of the PCGG Rules, such consideration is immaterial following our above ruling.

In PCGG v. Judge Pe, the Court held that the powers, functions and duties of the PCGG amount to the exercise of quasi-judicial functions, and the exercise of such functions cannot be delegated by the Commission to its representatives or subordinates or task forces because of the well-established principle that judicial or quasi-judicial powers may not be delegated.